No such thing as bad PR?


Windows 7 doth approach, and Microsoft, in it’s wisdom have organised ‘Windows 7 parties’ to encourage the poor deluded majority to bet, once again, that this version of Windows is the one they will actually enjoy using.The one that will at last, be intuitive, won’t crash much, will be free from viruses and malware, just like those other computers that they don’t like to mention very much.The general reception that the Windows 7 party idea has had is predictably consistent; it’s an awful, cheesy, cliche and pain-inducing idea that only reinforces the idea that Microsoft are so totally uncool and unhip, that it’s a wonder their bums don’t fall off (to quote Zaphod Beeblebrox).However one excuse for all the fallout has been, ‘there’s no such thing as bad PR.’ Meaning that it doesn’t matter that the idea is awful, it doesn’t matter that everyone is laughing at Microsoft, the number of column inches it generates is worth all the bad press.However I do not agree.Many years ago I worked alongside a person who I had great respect from in the creative and advertising industry. Our team was tasked with creating a straightforward campaign for a large supermarket chain to advertise a sale.This advertising took many forms, but one part was bus-shelter posters.Now being trained graphic designers we new that the thought process for the consumer was thus:You hook in the consumer with a gimmick, an offer or an angle.You then hold there attention with an attractive, easy to ‘consume’, flowing, logical design.You then let them go, away from your adverts influence, with a thought, or memory of your offer.The last part is the most important. The consumer will spend infinitely more time away from your ads influence, than being exposed to it. You don’t have long to get your message across and that message has to hit home first time, and it must stay with them when you ad is long gone.This period is the time where your influence has to be positive so that the consumer can pass your message along to another person.This is why ‘viral marketing’ is a difficult and dangerous approach. You have to get your message and every possible interpretation of that message absolutely right.Anyway I digress a little- back to the supermarket’s ad.We created what we thought best fulfilled those 3 critera, to hook, to hold & give right memory. However the client didn’t see it that way.They wanted something much more direct, simple and gaudy. Put simply they wanted their ad on a dayglo green or orange background, so that it ‘stood out’ and shouted their message.It certainly would hook & hold, but the memory? My colleague commented that, “We’ve hooked them in, the ad will be noticed most certainly, they will even read the ad, but what memory are they left with? a cheap and nasty one.”The client, whose product was most certainly not cheap and nasty, finally relented, but this experience made me think about the Windows 7 party.It’s getting the column inches, and we’re certainly hooked and held, but what’s the memory we are left with? What are we saying to others about this approach?Microsoft seems to think that any news is good news… I don’t think so.


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